A “Healthier” Carrot Cake

Sugar free carrot cake
We both love carrot cake. Who doesn’t. It’s a sweet tasting cake with creamy frosting and – best of all – it contains carrots! So in some strange way this cake must also be healthy!?

Well, it also usually contains large amounts of sugar, butter and flour, so healthy might not be the perfect word to describe it. Unless you replace these ingredients for more natural alternatives. We decided to try it.

So, we took a couple of our favorite carrot cake recipes, mixed them up a bit, removed the sugar, butter and white flour, replaced them with some ingredients that we found appropriate, whipped it together and put it in the oven. And our first try was a disaster! We used apple juice as sweetener and almost not any flour at all, which gave us a compact stonecake with absolutely no taste.

For our second try we sweetened it with bananas and dates (and some honey in the frosting), we used whole-wheat flour and a mild oil instead of butter. And this time it really turned out well. We also used a lot of dried fruit and quite large carrot grates, which made it really chewy and chunky.
Scroll down for the recipe.

Carrot cake 2
A “Healthier” Carrot Cake
Serves 6-8

3 eggs
1-2 bananas
10-15 fresh dates (without seeds)
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
3-4 carrots (medium size, grated)
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup raisins

Glazing
200 g cream cheese
3 tbsp honey
1/2 lime (juice)

1/2 cup hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Use a hand blender or a blender to mix bananas, dates and oil into a thick cream in another bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and stir it together with the eggs and the banana-cream. Add grated carrots, coconut flakes, walnuts and raisins and stir it until it all comes together.
Pour it into a cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Try to stick a toothpick in the centre of the cake, when nothing sticks on it the cake is ready. Let it cool.
Whip together the cream cheese and the honey (bananas or dates would probably also work as sweeteners for the frosting). Add the frosting when the cake is completely cooled of. Serve with roughly chopped hazelnuts or walnuts on the top.

Photos by: Johanna Frenkel

94 Comments

  • victoria
    how I substitute the bananas?
  • Sophie
    Hello! Love this recipe. How can I make this gluten free? Maybe a mix with two kinds or flours? I am crap at being baking and knowing how to sub things for the same consistency. Would be super grateful! Keep safe xx
  • Stephanie Jones
    It's my birthday tomorrow and going to make it for myself to cheer myself up being in self isolation. But, can you tell me what size cake tin to use?
  • Js
    Can you give me the nutrition info breakdown on this version of the carrot cake?
  • Claudia
    Hey GKS, Thank you for the great recipe (which I just came across looking through your website). I would really like to try it, but I'm not very familiar with cup measurement and the Internet gives different values in g/ml. Can you please tell me how much would that be in g/ml? Thank you so much, really hope to hear from you :) this is my first time writing on a blog :)
  • Zeel Nagda
    Any substitute for baking powder, baking soda and eggs ?
  • sarie sitkamer
    Clearly your recipe has stood the test of time. After my wife's cancer diagnosis we decided to both change to a sugar free diet. Thank you for your recipe all the way from South Africa
  • Allyn Rosenberger
    DELICIOUS! I've been looking for a naturally sweetened carrot cake for years and this was perfect! So tasty - thank you!
  • Emilie
    Great recipe! I had joy making your carrot cake today and everyone loved it. I was not caring much about food before I discovered your blog and apps. You made me like cooking and eating healthy! Thank you for sharing!
  • Helen
    I've just made this and its great! No fresh dates but chopped dried ones worked well ( didn't see hint to soak them until too late), didn't have coconut flakes so doubled up on raisins. And no topping as counting calories but it still tasted great. Tip - protect with foil towards the end of cooking so it doesn't brown too much.
  • An Noosa
    Made this cake and the taste was awesome. A bit dense though but maybe fruit cakes are supposed to be a bit more dense than the fluffy cakes we're used to. Will keep this recipe and will definitely make it again and again. Only 1 question: it took me 30 minutes longer to have it completely baked, anyone else had the same problem?
  • Kaja
    Hello! what a lovely recipe!!! Which size of the cake tin did you use for this recipe? 20 cm? Thanks in advance.
  • Marzie
    I loved this cake so much I'm baking it every week for my friends and me. since I'm trying sugarfree eating for a while, this cake is perfect for my sweet tooth.
  • Cat
    I made this for a baby's first birthday party and everyone ate it up! Huge hit with young and old alike. I used very moist dried dates and didn't soak them and it still worked just fine.
  • jeni
    Omg amazing cake.. Only problem is I want to eat it all in one go!!! Substituted one egg for 2tbs applesauce as only had 2 eggs, replaced cardamom with ginger, used dried dates instead of fresh which I soaked for a couple of hours, used 1/4 cup shredded coconut instead of the flakes (didn't have any flakes ay home!) and substituted sunflower oil with coconut oil. Delish!!
  • Millie
    Hi! Is this cake best served soon after it's been cooked or better when a day after or so? I know things like ginger cake get even yummier with time! I want to make this for my mums birthday and don't know whether to make it the day before on her actual birthday. Thank you!
  • Emily Kamminga
    Have you ever had carrot cake in your life? This is honestly digusting, you don't even taste the carrots and the spices are barely their, just a mess. Healthy it may be but tasty it is not. AND the glaze DOES NOT even glaze. Disappointing.
    • Hi Emily, I am very sorry you didn't like it. This is a quite old recipe of ours so it was quite some time since I last made it. Since it doesn't have sugar, it is of course less sweet than a traditional cake, but disgusting seems like a strong word of choice? It does have a quite high ratio of carrots so if you cant taste them it was perhaps a bad batch of carrots? Anyway, thank you for the feedback and we are, again, really sorry that you didn't like it. We will give this a try again and see if we think something needs to be changed in the recipe. /D&L
  • Leah Marks
    Can i use apple sauce instead 7of oil? Thanx
  • Leah Marks
    Can i use apple sauce instead of oil?

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